Statement: Michigan Supreme Court Rejects AG’s Taint Team Appeal

The Michigan Supreme Court today rejected an application from the Flint Water Criminal Team seeking to reverse Judge Kelly’s taint team orders from November 2021. A statement from Gov. Snyder’s legal counsel from Warner Norcross + Judd is below:

Today, the Michigan Supreme Court issued another rebuke against the Flint Water Criminal Team and Michigan Attorney General’s office when it upheld the sanctity of attorney-client privilege for all citizens.

The Supreme Court rejected the Flint Water Criminal Team’s application seeking the reversal of Judge Kelly’s taint team orders from November 2021.

“We suspect this is the latest Supreme Court mandate the prosecution will ignore, but we can still hope that they finally realize the judicial system in America is strong because it protects people from persecution based on political ideologies,” said Brian Lennon, attorney for Gov. Rick Snyder.

When Solicitor General Hammoud-led prosecution team recklessly seized and reviewed tens of thousands of attorney-client privileged documents and attorney work product from the civil law side of the Attorney General’s office, they failed to establish even the most basic taint team protocols to segregate privileged materials from that which the prosecution can properly review. That fatal flaw in the Flint criminal cases ignored the most sacrosanct privilege in American jurisprudence: every citizen’s right to attorney-client privilege.

“Every citizen understands that prosecutors cannot review the communications between lawyers and their clients, nor can they review an attorney’s notes and work product,” Lennon said. “For some reason, this well-founded principle was ignored by the Flint Water Criminal Team, despite clear warnings from their civil-law AG colleagues in 2019, as well as by counsel for both Director Nick Lyon and the Snyder legal team. These criminal cases need to be dismissed because there is no way to recover from such an unethical and unconscionable violation of constitutional rights.”

Despite clear warnings from numerous legal professionals in the public and private sector, SG Hammoud plowed ahead and began producing Governor Snyder’s privileged documents, as well as court-protected city of Detroit mediation documents, to all nine criminal defendants. 

Since Judge Kelly’s November order instructing the Flint Water Criminal Team to follow proper procedures and establish a taint team, no protocol has been established. Additionally, not a single non-privileged document has been produced for any of the defendants in nearly a year.  Moreover, despite representations to several courts that establishing a taint team now would cost the taxpayers more than $30 million dollars, there is no line item in the AG’s 2023 fiscal year budget to account for this anticipated expenditure. 

SG Hammoud’s position has been to ignore Judge Kelly’s ruling, as well as the Michigan Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in the Peeler, Baird and Lyon cases, ordering the dismissal of unlawfully obtained indictments from the one-judge grand jury.

The Supreme Court today struck another blow today against the Attorney General’s handling of the Flint water cases when it rejected the prosecution’s application for leave seeking reconsideration of Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose’s demand for a preliminary hearing.  Rather than following the directive of the Supreme Court to dismiss the unlawfully issued indictments in the Flint water cases, the prosecution appealed to the Supreme Court and has asked the county courts to convert improper indictments into a different type of charging document.

“The courts take their rulings very seriously. It’s time for the Attorney General’s Office and SG Hammoud to do the same and dismiss all cases brought by the Flint Water Criminal Team,” Lennon said. “This isn’t a game of chance where you can keep rolling the dice hoping for a better outcome.”